Robyn Boeré new associate professor in the field of ethics

‘I hope to be able to contribute with my specialty in moral theology (ethics) to the larger needs of the faculty and the university through teaching and research,’ Robyn Boeré says, who started in her new position at the Faculty of Theology in August.  

Robyn Boeré. Photo
Robyn Boeré has recently started as an associate professor at the Faculty of Theology. 

When Robyn Boeré arrived in Oslo a few weeks ago, it was not just the job here at the faculty that was new to her. It was also her first time visiting Norway. Now she is ready to get to work spreading knowledge of- and starting discussions about ethics at the University of Oslo.  

Child medical ethics

Boeré comes from a position as an Associate Lecturer in Christian Ethics at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, where she has been teaching ethics or moral theology for the past few years.

In 2019 Boeré – who is Canadian by origin – completed her PhD at the University of Toronto, titled Can a Child Choose Death? Childist Ethics in Light of Terminal Illness and Euthanasia.   

Until recently, her research has primarily focused on issues of child medical ethics, especially decision-making at the end of life.

‘I have always had a thing about death and dying,” Boeré says to explain where her research interests came from.  

At the same time, Boeré got interested in thinking about autonomy and medical decision-making outside the normal simplistic boundaries of so-called free and independent adults.

‘And so I began to think specifically about children. Once I did that, it was like Pandora’s box! So many questions came up about how we view childhood, morality, children, and what it means to live well and to die well,’ she says.

Now Boeré is not only interested in practical questions of individual decisions, including the permissibility of certain actions, but the larger framework of child agency. This includes how children and adults can make shared decisions, each bringing their own strengths and abilities to the tasks that lie ahead of them.

‘Some of the questions I explore include: can a child be a good person? Is a child moral? Can children die a good death? What does it mean for our understanding of morality to include children as moral agents?’

Children and nature

In addition to researching issues of child medical ethics, Boeré has more recently begun to research children in relation to environmental ethics.

‘In general, children are only discussed in environmental ethics regarding population control,’ Boeré says.

She states that this has the unfortunate effect of positioning children against nature.

‘I want to think instead about our responsibilities towards children and nature together, and how we might, as adults, become like children in relation to the earth.’

When diving into the field of child ethics, Boeré has found it especially enriching to consider what children reveal about our humanity in general.

‘They remind us of integral parts of ourselves that we have forgotten with age.’

Here for the skiing

From January on, Boeré will be teaching a new course on applied ethics. In this course, Boeré and her students will be looking at how theology is a resource for ethics, how ethics can shape our theological questions, and how moral theology provides us with resources to think through practical ethical problems.

When Boeré is not working on this course, she will also be finishing a book on child death, and working on a collaborative project with a linguist and pediatric palliative care physician on the use of metaphor in children’s medical care.

‘And, of course, I’m here for the skiing,’ she says.

By Marie R. Midtlid
Published Aug. 24, 2022 10:08 AM - Last modified Aug. 24, 2022 10:08 AM